1974 Austin Vanden Mk3 Plas Princess 1300 Auto
(Featured on 31st May 2010)
Model: Vanden Plas
Registration: VRT 267M
Sellers original description:
A truly outstanding Mk3 Vanden Plas Princess 1300 automatic. Effectively 2 owners and just 16,900 miles from new.
Presented in show condition, with all of its original panels and virtually all of its factory paint finish.
A most comprehensive service history with 20 stamps from the supplying dealer in the service book.
Always garaged and kept under wraps never intentionally used in the wet and most certainly never in the winter.
By the late 50’s, still on a high from the success of the Mini bosses at BMC turned their attentions to rejuvenation of the range. With unshakable faith in the Mini’s designer, Alec Issigonis, they tasked him with designing the new mid range model. The first prototype of the new stretched Mini appeared in late 1958.
Whereas the Mini had changed little from Issigonis initial drawings it was thought that the new car which would be competing in a more expensive sector should be more highly styled. Help was sought from Italian styling house Pininfarina. When the car, Codenamed ADO16, emerged it was a crisp and well-balanced design that, from its launch, proved to be exactly the right product at the right time.
The ADO16 was roomy and more mechanically advanced over much of its competition, with its front wheel drive and hydrolastic suspension.
Although only initially available with the 1098cc ‘A’ series engine and Marketed as the Austin and the Morris 1100 it became Britain’s best selling car by the mid sixties with an exceptional 14.3% market share. Demand was so high that extra production was introduced, although this did little to shorten the waiting lists at the Dealers.
The late sixties saw a further boost for sales with the long awaited introduction of much acclaimed Mini Cooper 1275cc engine into the ADO16 range.
Built and finished on the BMC production lines along side the Austin and Morris 1100 & 1300 were the badge engineered models the M.G, Wolseley, and Riley.
In addition to these marques though there was another separate quite superior make altogether, one that went that extra mile in producing a top of the range flag ship version of the 1100/1300, one that did it from their own works in Kingsbury North London using a highly skilled workforce to hand finish the car. They were the renowned specialist coachbuilding company - Vanden Plas.
THE VANDEN PLAS PRINCESS 1300
The name of Vanden Plas is one of the oldest in the motor industry, dating back to the end of the 19th century. They had been coach builders for Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Alvis, Daimler, Lagonda and many more.
In 1962, the late Fred Connolly, of the company famous for supplying the finest hides for the Worlds most prestigious vehicles, approached Vanden Plas to prepare for him personally a special version of the recently announced Morris 1100. A prototype was exhibited at the 1963 London Motor Show. So much interest was shown in the Prototype that Vanden Plas started full scale production of the car that had been branded by many as “the Mini- Rolls- Royce”. Vanden Plas, however, named it the Princess 1100.
The Vanden Plas Princess 1100 and latterly 1300 proved to be extremely popular.
Assembled up to a point, with just the power plant in the basic shell, on the ADO16 line at Longbridge the unfinished cars were transported to The Vanden Plas works in Kingsbury for finishing. There the skilled work force would transform the cars into true opulence using the very finest materials.
The seats were a unique design more reminiscent with an armchair one would expect to find at Gentleman’s club then in a medium sized car. They were extremely comfortable with leather centre inserts, Connolly of course, a fold down centre arm rest in the back and front, a small chrome winder at the front of each seat allowed you to adjust the rake of the back rest and, we think, best of all two beautifully cantilevered walnut picnic tables mounted on the back of the front seats - just the thing for lashings of ginger beer and home baked ham!
A walnut dash board with round instruments was fitted with a bank of proper toggle switches each one labelled. Matching walnut door cappings were fitted above the superior door cards with padded arm rests.
Extra sound deadening was laid before the Wilton carpets with bound edges were fitted.
Even the headlining was of the best quality West of England cloth.
Many improvements were made to the exterior too. A unique bonnet was fitted alongside changes to the front panel, to accommodate the traditional Vanden Plas grille, chrome spot lights and wrap round indicators. Larger headlamp surrounds and bumper overriders completed the striking front end lay out. The final touch unique hand painted coach lines.
The very up market and ‘best of British’ Vanden Plas Princess 1300 always sold well with the Automatic being the most desirable.
Today, 36 years since production ceased the Vanden Plas Princess 1300 Automatic remains as desirable as ever with original un restored examples rare and highly sought after.
A Vanden Plas Princess 1300 Automatic. On sale here for the first time since it was supplied new 36 years ago on the 1st May 1974 by Henleys (Ipswich) Ltd. Their number plate’s rear window sticker and tax disc holder still remain.
The first owner, an elderly gentleman who had bought the Vanden Plas as a gift to himself and his wife for their retirement, never intended it to be used on a daily basis. It was always destined to be a second car and to be used really only for ‘high days and holidays’. From new the car was cosseted, loved and cherished.
According to the new car order form present in the history file the Princess 1300 had been ordered with factory options of Automatic front seat belts and the desirable 4 speed Automatic transmission. Dealer options were to be two door mirrors and a Cadulac rust proofing treatment. They had traded in their Morris 1300 automatic which an allowance was made of £430. In actual fact VRT 267M, Vanden Plas job number 29884, also had a factory fitted heated rear window. The first owner also opted to have Kangol rear seat belts fitted. There has never been a radio fitted.
Always garaged and covered when not in use the owner would not deliberately take it out in the rain or even if rain were forecast. From new the car has only seen summer use. This is a vehicle that has never been subjected to road salt.
From the offset VRT 267M was used sparingly. However despite its frugal use the owner, following the manufacturer’s instruction to the letter, returned the car to the supplying dealers, Henleys, for its annual service. The service book has 20 or so stamps, more than space in the book allowed for and the rear inside cover was used to record the last few. Often the mileage between services amounted to just a few hundred.
Shortly after the 1993 service and with the mileage then just 15,695 VRT 267M was laid up in dry storage for the next 7 years by its ageing owner.
The owner, now in his eighties and in failing health brought the car out of moth balls and had it serviced and M.O.Ted in April 2000 by Edmondson Rover of Ipswich. The mileage according to the invoice and M.O.T was 16,107. One year later the Vanden Plas was again at Edmondson’s for its next M.O.T and a new exhaust. In the year between M.O.T’s it had covered just 6 miles- the distance from then back to the M.O.T station. Sadly the journey back home after the 2001 M.O.T was to be the last the first owner made in his beloved Vanden Plas. He died shortly after.
Title for the car passed to an executor of the Estate who, in accordance with the law, remained as keeper on the V5c although never used the car other than to move it from time to time, less than 100 miles in total.
In 2003 VRT 267M was acquired by its last owner a retired Doctor and Vanden Plas enthusiast.
Since that time it has been cherished and cared for in the same vain that it had been previously. Always garaged, kept under covers and never taken out in the winter or in the rain.
Old M.O.T’s confirm very little use whilst in the care of the last owner who averaged less than 100 miles per annum.
The Genuine mileage of this 36 year old delightful, beautiful, totally original hand built Vanden Plas Princess 1300 Automatic is just 16,934.
It is without doubt one of the very best, if not the best, original condition examples available.
VTR 267M is such a delightful, honest and proper little car. Finished in the best paint and trim combination.
It has only really had 2 users both of them elderly; it has been cherished and garaged most of its life and is remarkably rust free and solid.
We really believe that it is most likely the best available, you would be hard pushed to find another even approaching this condition.
We cannot think of anything that requires attention now or of anything that might in the near future.
This car will be of interest to enthusiasts, collectors and investors or should make a reliable everyday classic. One thing is for sure we think that it will bring much enjoyment to its new owner and make them very, very happy – as it does us!